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Vanderbilt University Law School

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

2018

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Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther Jan 2018

Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Symposium issue celebrating his career, Professor Michael Risinger in Leveraging Surprise proposes using "the fundamental emotion of surprise" as a way of measuring belief for purposes of legal proof. More specifically, Professor Risinger argues that we should not conceive of the burden of proof in terms of probabilities such as 51%, 95%, or even "beyond a reasonable doubt." Rather, the legal system should reference the threshold using "words of estimative surprise" -asking jurors how surprised they would be if the fact in question were not true. Toward this goal (and being averse to cardinality), he suggests categories such ...